Saturday, October 25, 2008

Red Squirrel Workout

I collected a bag of black walnuts from the hospital grounds this week. Unlike Nina, who actually works to break open these almost inpenetratable nuts, I put them out as October "trick or treats" on my back deck. Each day I would place one on the picnic table and watch for a taker. There was never any visible action, but within two minutes of my leaving the doorway, the walnut would be gone. What could whisk them away so quickly?

This morning started out dull and rainy but I put two walnuts in the table and stood back from the door with my camera pointed out the window. We have a red squirrel who lives under a neglected woodpile in the yard behind our deck. It scampered up the privacy fence and waited for an opportunity to move. This squirrel is usually not afraid to approach me when I am out, but he was far more cautious today. The next events happened quickly and my pictures are blurry because of the speed of the squirrel and the poor light.

(Click to enlarge)

The 225 gram American red squirrel approached the 150 gram walnut and moved it to the edge of the table. It strained as it held the fruit between its teeth and dropped it on the bench. This action was repeated from the bench to the deck floor. It then climbed the fence holding the fresh walnut in its mouth and took it to the nest. This was a Herculean effort for a small rodent and it was more vulnerable to predators during the exercise. We have had a Coopers Hawk as well as a Red-tailed Hawk near the yard recently.

I put the rest of the walnuts in a safer and more convenient location for the hard-working squirrel. We have much larger black and grey squirrels in the neighbourhood too but they are more interested in food that is easier to obtain. (like the bird feeders!) The little red squirrel has a LOT more work to do before it actually can eat the walnut. But he has all winter for that.

...more walnut tales coming


  1. How cute!Red Squirrels can be very entertaining.I'm glad you caught that with your camera.

  2. Who'da thought a little red squirrel could accomplish a feat like that!

  3. Anonymous8:43 pm GMT-4

    What a great idea. I've never thought of black walnuts for their entertainment value!

  4. Now that is sweet! What a hardworking little thing. Great shots.

  5. I've never seen a red squirrel. How cute and how industrious that little guy was...

  6. Squirrels are busy this year: the Old Farmer's Almanac has predicted a cold winter (not that squirrels can read ... although sometimes I wonder: they find a way to get what they want!)

  7. Who needs TV? There is so much to watch in your back yard. A simple walnut and a little critter can provide hours of entertainment. And guess re-runs... a new episode every time.

    Thanks for sharing your little story of the Red Squirrel and his Walnut!

  8. Awww--what a cute squirrel. I love the red fur. And such a hard worker.
    Oh good, you cut him a break and moved the food closer.

  9. What a great set of photos Ruth! Just what makes that little ole' ant... :c) Go squirlley!

  10. I'm a little surprised to see a red squirrel in your area. Have I just been blind to them all these years?

  11. Looks intense. Haha. Very nice shot. They seem to be coming really close now, searching for anyone who will give them food.

  12. Ruth- I tried every day for a week before I got the pictures!

    Wendy- I am glad I don't have to work that hard for my food.

    Anon- nor have I

    NCMW- I am getting quite fond of this critter

    RW/ AC- Now you have me wondering about the range of the Am. red squirrel. We have had them in our yard for years. They took over one of my bird houses. The range maps show they are widely distributed.

    Robert- Well, this little guy is very busy. We had a hard winter last year...not again so soon!

    Cheryl D- Yes, who needs TV. I don't have time :-)

    KGMom- I practically handed him the rest of them.

    Jayne- ants...squirrels, I guess both are very diligent

    SG- this squirrel lives well from my handouts!

  13. Oh Ruth, those photos are so amazing! I love red squirrels and can't wait to see more pictures of your busy little critter!

  14. I loved this sequence of pictures. The squirrels are SO busy right now with their gatherings. No walnuts for them to gather where we live ... such BIG treasures!

  15. How CUTE! How sweet of you to put them closer to him. I'd do the same!

  16. That the sweetest series of photos! Made me smile and laugh. So cute!


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